Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,268 feet
Mt. Spalding  -  13,842 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2016
Date Climbed:   07/20/2016
Author:  vondiesel
 Floridians on 14ers (Summit Lake-Spalding-Evans)   

Hi all-

This is my first report, so bear with me

First, a little about me: I'm a native Floridian who moved to CO 2 years ago. I'm a postdoctoral researcher for the University of Colorado at Anschutz Medical Campus.

Some family from FL came into town last week and I wanted to give them some "real" CO experience. My brother-in-law "K" agreed to do a 14er with me. I did Bierstadt last October, so this would be my 2nd. We decided on Summit Lake - Spalding - Evans, since it seemed to be a relatively short distance hike with less elevation gain than most hikes. I wanted to give K a good experience, but not want to do something overly long. He is from sea level after all (and not to throw him under the bus, but he's not in as good a shape as he once was). I'm in average shape and I've lived here 2 years, so I definitely had an advantage. Still, I thought we could make the loop and be back to our car in about 4-5 hours, even if we took it really easy.

We brought lots of food and water and took plenty of breaks. We did fine about 2/3rd of the way around, but then at the west ridge of Evans, K totally ran out of gas and had to stop every 100 feet or so. The last 3/4 mile along the ridge took over an hour, by which time the weather was deteriorating. We finally did reach the peak of Evans just as some tiny hail hit. Then lightning struck over by Bierstadt and we had to get down to shelter fast. Unfortunately, we didn't get a peak photo. We waited out the first storm (with some VERY close lightning) and then headed out.

I still felt and could have gone down the Northeast face, but K was really beat, so we hitched a ride with a nice elderly couple from Boulder back down to Summit Lake. This was probably the best idea, as another wave of rain came soon after. We would have been pretty exposed.

So we learned a few lessons that hopefully can help other newbies, or especially those with guests from low altitude. These are all things that others here will tell you, but experiencing them first hand is still an eye opener.

1. Start early! Storms happen fast.
2. Bring plenty of food and water. We did well here, and the experience could have been a lot worse if we hadn't.
3. Acclimation is different for everyone. Some people can go right up with no problem. But if you're out of shape, even a week or more may not help.
4. Even the "short" 14er hikes are serious stuff.
5. The west ridge of Evans was a lot more rocky/boulder-y than I expected. The last few hundred yards before the parking lot are easy trail, but the first portion is no joke.
6. Don't get discouraged if you get tired. It can happen really suddenly. Know when to call it quits. We were 80% finished with our hike when the weather turned, so we had to press forward to shelter at the peak of Evans. But there's no shame in calling it a day early and going down. The mountain isn't going anywhere. You can always try again.

Myself on the left and K on the right. GO GATORS!!!
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Looking north to Meeker and Longs, 46 miles away. It was a really clear morning.
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Looking west to Grays and Torreys from the saddle south of Spalding. Still beautiful weather.
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Looking west to Bierstadt and the Sawtooth. Clouds moving in. About 30 minutes after this there was rain, hail and lightning.
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In the end, we had a great time, saw some beautiful views, and we made it home safely. Next time, we'll try a shorter hike, or make sure we're in better shape.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
rob runkle
User
Congrates!
07/22/2016 11:47
Glad you pointed out early start. That is the key with the weather. Improves your chances tremendously. Good job overall.



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